Friday, February 27, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Dig it! The secrets of soil

By Karen Ross

A walk through any of California’s 700 certified farmers markets is all it takes to make the point: This state’s farms are something special. Our farmers are innovators —as creative as they are productive, to the tune of $42.6 billion worth of agricultural produce and commodities a year. But they have a lot of help right under their feet: the soil.

The California Museum in Sacramento (10th and O streets) features a new exhibit, sponsored by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and designed by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, that gives us a unique peek underground. “Dig It! The Secrets of Soil” is a 4,000-square-foot exhibit focused on educating 75,000 kindergartners through eighth-graders each year about the benefits of healthy soils.

We hope to see more and more young minds take an interest in soil, in agriculture and in the environmental sciences. As much as we know about soils and how they help us grow food, we will need a tremendous amount of new research and innovation to meet the nutritional needs of a growing global population.

Sacramento is a perfect place for this “Dig It!” exhibit. We are the “farm-to-fork capital,” and soil is the star of the show when it comes to farming. It’s what lets California farmers grow more than 400 agricultural commodities, from date palms in the high desert to veggies on the central coast, fruit trees in the foothills, wine grapes in Napa, rice up north and darned near everything else in the valleys in between.

In fact, California even has a state soil: San Joaquin soil from the great valley that is recognized as one of the richest agricultural regions in the world. With upper layers of brown loam and a subsoil of clay, this soil is well-suited for the valley’s irrigated crops such as almonds, oranges, grapes, wheat and rice. The great Central Valley boasts more than 500,000 acres of it.

Locals are used to it, but folks who come to California for the first time are awed by the variety, quality and abundance of our agriculture. Even a simple trip through our average supermarket produce section can be a jaw-dropper for someone who isn’t accustomed to our array of nutritious, tasty, healthy choices. Ask Sacramento chefs what makes this the perfect place for their restaurants to thrive, and it’s a sure bet they’ll rave about the long list of seasonal, local ingredients they have to choose from on a year-round basis.

That variety, that abundance are truly built from the ground up. Sandy or silty, loam or clay … our soils are as diverse as the food we grow in and on them. Farmers have always known that healthy soils are essential to produce good crops, but the advancing science of soils is giving us a whole new appreciation of soil diversity and soil health — and that science is giving us new tools to be better stewards of the land.

From irrigation technology that saves water to fertilizer research that protects our natural resources, science allows us to understand not just what we can grow from our soil but also what the soil itself requires to remain healthy and productive.

Soil isn’t just “dirt.” It’s a secret, underground ecosystem teeming with microbial life, nutrients, water. It is as varied and fascinating as California’s above-ground attractions, from its beaches to its mountains, valleys and deserts. It may take a scientist to see the connection, but that’s exactly what we’re hoping to find with the California Museum’s new “Dig It!” exhibit: New scientists who marvel at the magic happening right beneath our feet.

“Dig It!” is open now and will be on display at the California Museum through March 29. For more information, visit the California Museum website at www.californiamuseum.org/dig-it. Hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. (closed Mondays).

— Karen Ross is California’s agriculture secretary.

Comments

comments

Special to The Enterprise

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    New greenhouse will add to ‘Farm to Mouth’ program

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Learn about pollinators, gardens and honey at Yolo Basin fundraiser

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Can you give them a home?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Fire damages South Davis home

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Gerber nominations close Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Explorit: Humming right along

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A3

    Flower arrangers feature S.F. designer

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Celebrate Africa on Saturday at I-House

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Chamber explores how to pay for Davis’ needs

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Wolk and Dodd team up to provide Napa earthquake tax relief

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Robb Davis to speak about homelessness, energy

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Spring sing-along is March 4

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Two free yoga classes offered March 12

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Take a night walk at Cache Creek

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Class of 1970 plans 45-year reunion

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Bicycle safety course to be offered in Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Documentary on immigration issues will be screened

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Learn about your brain on March 14

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    A fill-up mishap

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Adopt a household for Bridge to Housing participants

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Workshop will teach sustainable gardening methods

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Forum

    Tired of all of this

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Oral Health Project launches

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

    Here an H, there an H

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

     
    Cavalier attitude about bike safety

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

    Start early to build healthy dental habits

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B6

     
    No extra cost for containers

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

    .

    Sports

    Inquiring minds want to know about Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Encouraging start for DHS boys tennis team

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Off day for Aggie men at UCSB

    By Kim Orendor | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie women fall to 4th after lackluster showing

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Lady Devils are on to the SJS semis

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Blue Devil boys expect a spike in production

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Late goal lifts Red Wings over Sharks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

    Watney struggling at windy Honda Classic

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    International Film Series to present ‘Jaffa’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    Monticello announces March schedule

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    The Artery presents ‘Stepping Into Nature’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10 | Gallery

     
    YoloArts’ Gallery 625 presents ‘The Poetry of Dots’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    ‘Focus': A sharply conceived caper

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    The Woodland Opera House announces 2015-16 season

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Nissan’s Z remains an affordable performer

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3

     
    Car Care: Simple DIY steps to protect your car through all seasons

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Dieter W. Gruenwedel

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    George Miller Jr.

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Death notice: Celia E. Recchio

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Vernon E. Burton

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, February 27, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B5